Rebar and the Anti-Adams

Okay, I’m no lawyer. But we’ve long suspected, as Legal Insurrection notes, Obama’s “not really into that rule of law stuff.” Hershel Smith’s “Captainsjournal” quotes an Althouse commentor who sees Obama “at his core, the anti-John Adams.” Smith’s rifts make me smile – its nice to remember those witty, self-deprecating, stubborn old guys.

And their priorities were broad and integrated. It is we who have become not only small but dissociated. Foster often reminds us that the big picture includes commerce, business, economics. Discussing Abigail Adams, Woody Holton emphasizes her role as canny businesswoman – as her descendants noted long ago. She wants, she tells John, to match his statesmanship with her prowess as “farmeress.” His proud rejoinder was her foresight about matters of state matched her business skills – both arising from her understanding of human nature. That understanding grew as her shouldering of responsibility did: their partnership freed both to do more for family & nation. Holton admires her courage and wisdom – in land dealing, in farming, in speculating. She understood the importance for a family and for a nation of a solid financial footing. His discussion of prenups (her sisters took that unusual but legal path) and her ways of distributing money to give responsibility and freedom to her female relatives came from her own personal growth. She understood fulfillment was the base of prosperity and felicity. She understood productivity – intellectual, personal, economic, societal – as the context for “the pursuit of happiness.”

Our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, our respect for the Scots beliefs all led to a sense that businesses need independence; they should be supported by as much as restrained by our laws. The Adams must have discussed, argued & formulated these concepts in “curtain talks” like those of the HBO series Smith admires. But this is often misunderstood by our more fragmented modern society (and often fragmented selves). When Obama patronizes careers in business he is signaling his alienation from the values of our forefathers as much as when he speaks of taking action against the Supreme Court. But all is connected in ways those like the Adams understood.

They would understand what we see: an obvious correlation between the rule of law and the use of rebar. Predictable, structurally sound rebar doesn’t intrude itself in our lives but supports walls between which we can live freely, expecting the laws that stood yesterday to stand tomorrow. And we can build a rich life, expecting that our family, in a predictable fashion, will be enriched by our work – intellectual, social, material. But a society without rebar is always on the verge of catastrophe: by a whim, walls may stand or fall. And when a catastrophe comes, the walls will fall hard and fast.

(Meanwhile, Instapundit links to Jammie Wearing Fool, who tells us that only 77% of Investors see Obama as anti-business.)

49 thoughts on “Rebar and the Anti-Adams”

  1. The other 23% of investors are hoping that Obama’s corporatist policies will make them some nice safe monopolies.

  2. What would one expect of someone who has been a parasite all of his life? Look at his unreadable memoir; what strikes one is the man’s ingratitude to family and country.

    Have you ever read something “well written”, but boring because it is empty and thoughtless? That is “Dreams From My Father”,likely written by Bill Ayers.

  3. That Doctor Zero essay is excellent. The theme of this post reminds me a bit of Thomas More’s speech in A Man For All Seasons.

    And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast—man’s laws, not God’s—and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
    (Act One, scene seven)

    Contract law is part of that rebar that holds up society and the GM and Chrysler deals cut a good portion of that down.

  4. Kennedy, That’s one of my friend’s (Scotus who sometimes comments on here) favorite quotes, he uses it in his philosophy courses. Yes, I love that. And I feel lucky America was founded about the same time the English (& especially the Scots) came to that realization. It was not an easily won insight.

  5. Renmimbi,Thanks for that link to Zero, it is a wonderful post. A country proud to be middle class is egalitarian in a way that statists only fantasize.

  6. Michael K…I thought of the same passage from “A Man for All Seasons.” It is interesting that the Left is so concerned about any real or imagined threat to the Laws for purposes of getting at the Devil, when the “Devil” consists of terrorist murders, but totally relaxed about cutting down the whole forest of Laws for purpose of slamming bankers, et al.

    Once again demonstrating the truth of an astute observation by Neptunus Lex:

    “The innate character flaw of the political right, with its thrumming appeals to the logic of blood and soil, is its lamentable tendency to go in search of enemies abroad. The left, on the other hand, with its own appeals to the politics of envy and class warfare, is content to find mortal enemies closer to hand.”

  7. I like that Neptunus Rex site. I especially liked the fellow who had found his niche photographing beautiful girls and vintage airplanes.

    When I was a pre-med student, surviving by picking worms from ocean bottom samples in a microscope, I was given some career advice. Another grad student said, “Find a place you want to go, then study something that is found only there.” He became the world expert on venomous sea animals and spent his life scuba diving the south Pacific.

    While the right may deplete the country’s resources fighting wars abroad, the left risks disaster when they focus on pseudo mortal enemies at home while real enemies plan invasion. Stanley Baldwin, the “Dear Vicar,” said “great armaments lead inevitably to war” and feared that Churchill’s proposals would lead to an unbalanced budget. The present left seems similarly blind.

  8. Two of my brothers in law were Marine F 18 pilots, one of them a legendary F 4 pilot in Vietnam whose call sign was Fokker. He is in a number of unit histories as he commanded a number of famous squadrons. His flight suit is in the Smithsonian for the eventual Vietnam exhibit. Since retiring, he has built a huge business empire reinforcing Fred Smith’s theory of the value of military training in business. Those people who are eligible for the Tailhook Society are special people. My wife attended a number of the conventions and was always warned to stay away from the hospitality suites. Any woman who went near them knew exactly what she was in for. She was also told by her brothers to stay away from the Officers’ Club on Friday nights as that was the meat market. Her brother was groped on a number of occasions as he stopped for a beer on his way home to his wife and family.

  9. Tatyana: Men who land airplanes on moving objects in the middle of the ocean are risktakers. I admire them deeply and know two who died as young men, with their futures in front of them. My mother was one of the first women officers in the Navy. I respect women, my mother, and the Navy. However, much of the reaction to the Tailhook incident was thoughtless and ideological. I also suspect ignoring the sexual tensions that are a part of the relations between men and women in the age groups and the close living conditions of carriers is not a good idea.

  10. Tatyana, I’m sorry – I left out a “not” – of course, acknowledging human nature is generally a good idea and ignoring it a bad one.
    I had assumed you were talking about the Tailhook scandal of a generation ago; you must have meant something else. I must have missed your point.

    Yes, I don’t check out Neptunus Lex often but it is interesting and those “Ulysses” links are charming.

  11. Michael, you sound as if you approve of this despicable behavior of those “special people”. Even admire them.

    Yes, I do. My wife was warned by her brother and brother-in-law to stay away from the hospitality suites at Tailhook as the women who went to them were looking for what they found. Her brother was groped at the El Toro officers’ club one Friday night as he was sipping a beer before going home to his family. A young woman next to him at the bar grabbed his genitals. The girls who went to the “O club” on Friday nights, especially after “Top Gun” came out were notorious.

    The woman who filed the complaint was having men sip champagne from her naval at one of those parties before the alleged incident. The investigation showed the real offender was an Australian officer. I would recommend reading this account before making a final judgement.

    I don’t approve of “despicable behavior” but there was not much of it there and the navy was badly damaged by a frenzy of PC that included some ruined careers of men who were not even present. My brothers-in-law were at the convention but being older married men had better things to do.

    The Clinton Secretary of the Air Force made notorious remarks about the Marine Corps during her term and Togo West, Clinton’s Sec Army was part of the group that just issued a ludicrous report on the Fort Hood shooting. For example, the word Muslim does not appear in the report.

  12. One of Smith’s commenters notes that Obama’s constitutional scholarship, such as it is, reminds him of those guys who learned to fly airplanes without learning to land them.


  13. Ginny, I asked Mr. Kennedy a question based on his comment preceding mine. This is a first time I heard about Tailhook; my familiarity with it is limited on a first article that came out of a Google search. Regardless of the way it was handled, or bureaucracy, or mistakes in prosecuting people who were not there, etc etc etc – besides all of that, which very well might be true – I find the attitude displayed by Mr. Kennedy rather unpleasant.
    As I understood it (maybe I’m mistaken; please correct me then) – you share it.
    I could never understand women, especially women with daughters and granddaughters, who excuse and approve of a sexual abuse of other women, especially in highly hierarchical environments like military. Especially if the reasons given are suspiciously close to trivial “she asked for it”, “she behaved like a slut”, “she wore a short skirt”, & & &.

  14. Mr. Kennedy: being a decorated officer and/or highly qualified professional, in military or in business doesn’t excuse someone for being a cad, sexual abuser and a bully.
    That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.

  15. Well, I don’t think we are going to agree. I have three daughters and if one had behaved as this young woman behaved, I would have small sympathy. Remember, no one was raped; no one was beaten; in fact, there was no evidence of anything but consensual crude behavior. The result of the scandal was the loss of most of naval aviation for a decade. Senior officers who had done nothing “wrong” were punished and they, like Commander Stumpf, were flying airliners by the time they were exonerated.

    I suggest that my attitude toward women is far more enlightened than yours, from the way it sounds. We are not talking about “ladies” here. No doubt you agree with the woman professor about Larry Summers’ comment about math and science. Stone Age is the term that occurs to me.

    We are seeing something of this PC cowardice that resulted in the Fort Hood case.

  16. It’s interesting that we see all sorts of ramifications of these double standard in society now. Women are 60% of undergraduates and men seem to be avoiding college these days. We see complaints about the inability of women to find “Mr Right” for marriage. I remember complaints from men who were obliged to attend courses in women’s studies that involved viewing slides of magnified photos of vaginas. That was at Dartmouth, by the way. Women’s studies was a required class.

    Another example of the effects. I am glad that I am not an undergraduate these days.

    The Tailhook incident took place on the third floor of the hotel, no women who had not attended voluntarily were involved and the reaction was grossly excessive. Neither of my brothers-in-law were involved. Manfred had retired or it could have cost him his star as all senior officers who attended, even if they were nowhere near the incident, was ever promoted.

    The Obama Administration is exactly in sympathy with the results of this incident.

    No, I do not agree with your interpretation.

  17. Tailhook was a catastrophe. I suspect it wiped out more experienced naval aviators than did enemy action in the past two wars combined. It weakened the military overall. We are still suffering the effects, not least in the behavior of our current military leadership that seems to pay more attention to avoiding infractions of PC than to defeating our enemies. And who benefited — Patricia Schroeder?

  18. I remember a Lehrer (may have still been McNeill/Lehrer) when I thought Jim Webb was going to rise up out of his seat and strangle Schroeder. As a woman, a daughter of a Navy officer, and the mother of three daughters, I find Schroeder offensive and insulting. She laughed and giggled about how men were drafted and women weren’t. Webb knew men whose careers were ended by this. He was shaking. This was the worst of all ways we women could look at ourselves: as pieces of meat who could be described as victims when we chose, as women who should walk over men on the way into officer’s stripes but didn’t have to risk the draft, be ordered in combat positions, and could get out when we got pregnant, etc. etc.

    But it was merely our character that was undermined by this crap of lowered expectations and increased entitlement. As Jonathan points out, the real victims were those men whose careers were ruined as well as the services who learned from that incident that being honest – about facts, about human nature, about. . . – could destroy a career. I suppose such things are always true of such a huge system, the military is full of the kind of irony that comes out in acronyms like snafu. Still, besides the immediate destruction of a large group of experienced men, watching the news we, like Kennedy, have wondered lately if this habit of saying that no, women were as qualified as men, no, men were bastards and beasts, was not likely to have set a tone that led to the officer at Ft. Hood saying he hoped the deaths of (what was it at the end – 13?) people did not lead to a worse disaster – the end of diversity in the service. I’m as much for diversity as the next person, but I’d like it to be accompanied with some honesty.

    And this isn’t a matter of “other women” – it’s a matter of recognizing risks and taking responsibility; I don’t see myself as different – if older – than risk-taking women. At one time I was one; but I would like my daughters to recognize risks as much as I would like a son to recognize that taking a curve at too fast a speed is a self-destructive act. And I would hope they had both the self-knowledge and the self-respect to avoid such situations.

  19. It also cost the lives of several young women who were approved for flight status and carrier landings that they were unqualified for. After this, and a couple of other incidents, no instructor was willing to sacrifice his career by failing a female student pilot. I’m sorry if this became too personal for some. I was not defending the behavior of the young officers who got drunk and acted boorishly. I do know that they were of both sexes but only one suffered. The similarity to the Fort Hood incident is chilling, at least to me.

  20. Jonathan: Tailhook has very little to do with what i said.

    May I ask: does word “chivalry” means anything to you? No, forget it.Never mind.

  21. I certainly would never be opposed to chivalry but I thought it was voluntary and directed toward ladies, or at least women who appreciated it. Having raised five children, the youngest a college sophomore and the next youngest a grad student, I am only too aware of the situation with young men and women today. Men are caught in a paradoxical situation where they are the beneficiaries of sexual freedom unthinkable when I was that age, yet threatened with disaster if they cross invisible and often irrational barriers. Many young men have decided to avoid the whole situation and concentrate on video games. I can see their point.

  22. Besides, you’re wrong. A man either is chivalrous, or not – regardless if he’s appreciated. It’s like a habit of not emptying one’s nose on a curtain: some wouldn’t do it even in a dirtiest, messiest home – while others use silk draperies in a palace.

    There are certain taboos a civilized person (especially military officer. especially.) never crosses. No matter what, and in any circumstances – despite the audience, or approval of his superiors, or the amount of screwdrivers he consumed.

  23. I seem to have pushed a button so it’s time to go on to other subjects. I see that you approve of mass punishment of men who have never been accused of any behavior other than chivalrous.

    I don’t want an argument, just to be clear in my mind.

  24. Tatyana, my comment re Tailhook was accurate and I think reinforced Michael Kennedy’s points. The feminist Left sold a bogus narrative of male victimization of unwilling females and caused tremendous damage to the military, which was the goal. It happened because people who should have known better accepted the phony narrative uncritically.

    I assume that your rhetorical question about chivalry is a personal criticism. You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled not to care.

  25. You know, I never really knew (shamefully) what happened in that incident; I just sort of paid attention to it peripherally as it was reported in the MSM.

    It sounds a perfect mess: innocent peoples’ careers ruined.

    As for chivalry, well, an old-fashioned person will have trouble in this climate, won’t he or she? I have a funny desi (Indian-American) centric anecdote about that. Once, when I was younger, my parents arranged for me to talk to a slightly older woman who had married a nice doctor her parents introduced her to (in an old-fashioned 1950ish way). Dinner at the parents house, quiet dates, that sort of thing. And she said this funny thing to me as I was complaining about how old-fashioned our respective Indian parents were: “I’d rather meet some nice guy my parents introduce me to instead of going out at all hours and meeting jerks.” The way she said it, it was so funny, the expression on her face! I don’t know, it stuck out in my memory for some reason! Actually, most people I knew at that time period had met or married in medical school; med school couples. It seems to have worked out well for most of them.

  26. Tailhook ended up being something about which several of us have rather strong feelings (Kennedy’s clearly powerful and personal experience, but I think it is something Jonathan and I have thought about some).

    But what is a gentleman and what is a lady, what is a person of dignity and what is a person with a limited sense of humor, what is appropriate and what is whining are not always easy to sort out, given people have so much invested in certain positions. I think that may be part of why that woman reacted that way talking to you; surely in arranged marriages, since the parents speak and I assume come from similar cultures (even sub-cultures within cultures), the level of communication between the couple is relatively high. I married a guy from a thousand miles away whose parents’ lives had been in some ways much like mine and in some ways different. (It turns out that my sister married a guy in Nebraska whose family a hundred and twenty years ago immigrated from a village twenty miles from the village my husband’s people did – in a country that had supplied no earlier mates in our family’s genealogy back a couple hundred years.)

    I don’t even share a language with my oldest daughter’s parents-in-law, let alone a citizenship. And my youngest is dating a Pakistani, who has only been in this country a decade. It is probably more amazing that such matches (and the latter may be short-lived, of course) last any length of time at all, let alone fifty years. But they do. I can’t help but believe that arranged marriages have a lot going for them – surely closer ways of child rearing, religious beliefs, habits, food, etc. And the divorce rates for new immigrants has traditionally been higher than for longer term residents. Still, somehow quite different backgrounds merge.

  27. Ginny – interesting.

    I wasn’s describing an arranged marriage, by the way. Perhaps I wasn’t clear! Those sorts of things didn’t happen, and don’t happen, too much amongst the people I know. What I meant by 1950ish is that parents introduce you to a bunch of people and you decide if you like the person or not. So, not arranged. And my parents were a love match, as were many of their contemporaries, even in 1960s India :)

  28. At the risk of getting myself in trouble again, I will say I’m not very happy with the social life I see in the college age kids these days. A friend’s daughter was starting UC, San Diego about three years ago and her new roommate in the dorm informed her that her boyfriend would be spending many nights in the room. This was a tiny freshman dorm. Fortunately, she was able to switch rooms but it wasn’t an automatic thing.

    My youngest daughter was sharing a house with three girls and found two boyfriends living there, too. She has decided to move home for a year after disappointment with the curriculum.

    On the other hand, two of my kids got married last summer and a third has been married a decade.

  29. ….”I’m not very happy with the social life I see in the college age kids these days. ”

    There are too many sloppy, drunk, sloppy-drunk, tattooed, and stupid kids out and about. One can’t help from mentally casting these people as characters in an imaginary Islamic recruiting infomercial.

  30. Onparkstreet,
    It sounds like this was a more sophisticated version (the Indian parents more worldly and educated) of courtships in small towns like the one I grew up in – no one would have thought the marriages were arranged, but the families all knew each other – often known each other for generations. And they had ideas of what kind of person their offspring were likely to get along with. What seems exotic in the end isn’t all that different, I guess. That’s helpful in understanding. One of my husband’s grad students met her brother’s friend over spring break and came back married – they send us cards every year, with pictures of the lovely new babies. She didn’t think of it as arranged and it wasn’t – but she also implied it kind of was. A brother’s friend is usually a good match. And it is easier to decide when so much else is known about the other.

    One of my husband’s cousins was married this fall. The ceremony was Buddhist; the families had trouble communicating. But her father explained to me at the barbecue and kolache local reception that he liked the town his son-in-law came from because it was small town America, the doors weren’t locked, the people were “open” and knew each other. It was like the Indiana town where he’d raised his children after he’d come here from Viet Nam (and he clearly didn’t much like the more urban California community to which he had retired which apparently does feel foreign to him). On the other hand, the groom’s brother had married the sister of the brothers’ best friend, the girl they had teased through their childhoods; they were married by the Czech Brethren uncle of the bride. I wouldn’t be surprised if both marriages work well. (The earlier one was tested by the death of twins at 5 months gestation, buried a few days before the wedding reception over Christmas.) Oh, well, as my friend says, I always provide too much information. But people & lives are so interesting.

  31. Two of my Jewish friends met their future wives at Habad houses (meeting/worship places of the Lubavitch movement, a Jewish religious movement that has grown by promoting itself among Jews who lack traditional Jewish communal affiliations). This isn’t quite in loco parentis but it does provide self-sorting by characteristics that might be important in marriage. And of course this kind of thing happens all the time in traditional churches and religious institutions. Perhaps blogs, FB, etc. are beginning to fullfil similar roles with greater or lesser success. Ideally, civil society adapts where family structures and roles change.

  32. About five years ago, I attended the wedding of one of my medical students. I was honored to be invited. She was a very pretty young woman who always wore high heels with her white coat as we spent our days in the County Hospital. The wedding was quite a phenomenon. It was at the County Arboretum in a garden they have for this purpose. The two sets of friends and relatives were a bit of a contrast. The bride’s family were from Nebraska and the group on the bride’s side were either fellow medical students or family who had made the trip to attend. The groom was a Cal Tech grad student and most of his side were other Cal Tech types, many with rather odd dress and wool caps and that sort of thing.

    That year, three of my students got married at the end of the spring term. All of them were very attractive young women. One, whose wedding was to be in Boston as her fiance was a Harvard Business School student, made her bridesmaid dresses during the spring! I was hugely impressed with these women and have been lucky to stay in touch with some of them since.

  33. It’s rather interesting, the associations (not immediately apparent, at least to me) that brought this thread from rebars of law in society through Ulysses to Tailhook to chivalry and now to selection of marriage partners.

    If anybody cares for my opinion, I think people who rely on their parents or religious congregation for selection of their spouse are more introverted, or maybe it’s a wrong word – more “communal” in their mental composition than those who chose themselves. They think of their future family as part of a wider clan, and opinions, ties and attitudes of other members have higher significance to them. Of course, when the clan is settled compactly, in geographical sense, these considerations are even more important. These extended families sometimes have their black sheep (or “white crows”, as we say in Russian), and they provide entertainment and a life example (often intended as negative) for other members of the clan.

    Blogs, internet match sites, etc are for people with different mental vector; more individualistic and introverted, whose ties to wider clan are weakened or even severed. Which is not a bad thing, in evo-bio sense.

  34. Tatyana – the best comments sections meander, in my opinion :0

    “Blogs, internet match sites, etc are for people with different mental vector; more individualistic and introverted, whose ties to wider clan are weakened or even severed. Which is not a bad thing, in evo-bio sense.” – Tatyana

    Perhaps. Although, and JDate beg to differ… .

  35. Madhu, by “clan” I meant extended family, neighbors, school buddies etc etc.
    When I was a young girl, my “clan” had at heart my grandmother’ family; they lived among a wide network of relatives and acquaintances, acquired during 3 or even 4 decades of life in the same place.
    When my uncles and mother came to marrying age, grandma could easily find connections to collect information about prospective candidates. No, she didn’t select them herself, but she knew almost instantly, what that boy or girl’s family eat for dinner, their occupations, closet skeletons, their financial prospects; she could estimate pretty easily how they would treat the new member.

    My own family departed from that model significantly. My son went even further – he uses matchmaking sites, with triple filter of his own preferences; he would be amused at the notion of the “clan”.

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